History of the Federated States of Micronesia
The Federated States of Micronesia are located on the Caroline Islands in the western Pacific Ocean. The history of the modern Federated States of Micronesia is one of settlement by Micronesians; colonization by Spain, Germany, and Japan; United Nations trusteeship under United States-administered Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands; and gradual independence beginning with the ratification of a sovereign constitution in 1979.
The ancestors of the Micronesians settled there over 4,000 years ago. A decentralized chieftain-based system eventually evolved into a more centralized economic and religious Micronesian Empire centered on Yap and Pohnpei.
On Pohnpei, pre-colonial history is divided into three eras: Mwehin Kawa or Mwehin Aramas (Period of Building, or Period of Peopling, before ca. 1100); Mwehin Sau Deleur (Period of the Lord of Deleur, ca. 1100 to ca. 1628);[note 1] and Mwehin Nahnmwarki (Period of the Nahnmwarki, ca. 1628 to ca. 1885). Pohnpeian legend recounts that the Saudeleur rulers, the first to bring government to Pohnpei, were of foreign origin. The Saudeleur centralized form of absolute rule is characterized in Pohnpeian legend as becoming increasingly oppressive over several generations. Arbitrary and onerous demands, as well as a reputation for offending Pohnpeian deities, sowed resentment among Pohnpeians. The Saudeleur Dynasty ended with the invasion of Isokelekel, another semi-mythical foreigner, who replaced the Saudeleur rule with the more decentralized nahnmwarki system in existence today. Isokelekel is regarded as the creator of the modern Pohnpeian nahnmwarki social system and the father of the Pompeian people.
Nan Madol offshore of Temwen Island near Pohnpei, consists of a series of small artificial islands linked by a network of canals, and is often called the Venice of the Pacific. It is located near the island of Pohnpei and was the ceremonial and political seat of the Saudeleur Dynasty that united Pohnpei's estimated 25,000 people until its centralized system collapsed amid the invasion of Isokelekel. Isokelekel and his descendants initially occupied the stone city, but later abandoned it.
Yap was a major German naval communications center before the First World War and an important international hub for cable telegraphy. It was occupied by Japanese troops in September, 1914, and passed to the Japanese Empire under the Versailles Treaty in 1919 as a mandated territory under League of Nations supervision. US commercial rights on the island were secured by a special US-Japanese treaty to that effect, concluded on February 11, 1922.
Empire of Japan
During World War I, many of the Germany possessions in the Pacific were conquered by Japan, who fought on the side of the Allies of World War I and was active in the Asian and Pacific theatre of World War I.
The Empire of Japan administrated the islands from 1920 under the South Pacific Mandate granted by the League of Nations. During this period, the Japanese population grew to over 100,000 throughout Micronesia, while the indigenous population was about 40,000. Sugar cane, mining, fishing and tropical agriculture became the major industries.
In World War II, Japanese-held Yap was one of the islands bypassed in the U.S. "island-hopping" strategy, although it was regularly bombed by U.S. ships and aircraft, and Yap-based Japanese bombers did some damage in return. The Japanese garrison comprised 4,423 Imperial Japanese Army men under the command of Colonel Daihachi Itoh and 1,494 Imperial Japanese Navy men. A significant portion of the Japanese fleet was based in Truk Lagoon. In February 1944, Operation Hailstone, one of the most important naval battles of the war, took place at Truk, in which many Japanese support vessels and aircraft were destroyed.
World War II brought an abrupt end to the relative prosperity experienced during Japanese civil administration. By the War's conclusion most infrastructure had been laid waste by bombing, and the islands and people had been exploited by the Japanese military to the point of impoverishment.
The United Nations created the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) in 1947. Pohnpei (then including Kusaie), Truk, Yap, Palau, the Marshall Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands, together constituted the TTPI. The United States accepted the role of Trustee of this, the only United Nations Trusteeship to be designated as a "Security Trusteeship", whose ultimate disposition was to be determined by the UN Security Council. As Trustee the US was to "promote the economic advancement and self-sufficiency of the inhabitants."
On May 10, 1979, four of the Trust Territory districts ratified the Constitution of the Federated States of Micronesia. The neighboring trust districts of Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands chose not to participate. The Honorable Tosiwo Nakayama, the former President of the Congress of Micronesia, became the first President of the FSM and formed his Cabinet. The FSM signed a Compact of Free Association with the U.S., which entered into force on November 3, 1986, marking Micronesia's emergence from trusteeship to independence. Under the Compact, the U.S. has full authority and responsibility for the defense of the FSM. This security relationship can be changed or terminated by mutual agreement. The Compact provides U.S. grant funds and federal program assistance to the FSM. Amended financial assistance provisions came on-line in FY 2004. The basic relationship of free association continues indefinitely.
Trusteeship of the islands ended under United Nations Security Council Resolution 683, passed on December 22, 1990. The Compact was renewed in 2004.
- History of Oceania
- List of Presidents of the Federated States of Micronesia
- Politics of the Federated States of Micronesia
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